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Do you run with precise exactitude? Running and training for races is sort of like chiseling through rock with a hammer and chisel. Running mindfully should be that artistic, not just an exercise science. It’s important to make the right training decisions and to design a workout and training plan that works for you, your busy life, your schedule. But we know complete precision is perhaps impossible because that might mean perfection.

As a humorous example of precise exactitude, look at the distance in today’s snowy dog run: 3.00 even miles. How many of us “run to round up”: one more tenth, not wanting to finish and run 2.99 miles or 2.72 or 2.22. Sometimes our watches don’t cooperate. Earlier this week, I tried to press stop right on 3.33 and of course the mileage advanced to 3.34. Some days I don’t care as much where the mileage ends as long as I’m “in the neighborhood” of what my training plan says. Other days I do care and want the mileage on a specific number, sometimes down to the hundredths. Or at least an even tenth. Or an even rounded mile. (Not to be confused with “round the mile” at my parents’ house in Norfolk, Nebraska where that means a specific 5 mile square course with a tail.) Do you “round up” your miles like this?

In our neighborhood, I design last-minute loops to round up a 1/3 of a mile here, 1/2 mile there, or very commonly, “one more mile”. Looping your runs in these smaller chunks is valuable because you can use these later when you need them to map out new courses.

If I’m running with our dog Misty, I have to cue her which loop(s) we are taking, which direction to turn, when to stop, when to resume running. Also, must keep her from suddenly pulling on the leash in a random unexpected direction or dangerously circle me while leashed without warning. She’s pretty compliant for the most part but she’s still a puppy. And of course we must have some scenic photographic breaks to feed the soul.

It is very important that even if we strive for some degree of precise exactitude, we should build flexibility into our training routine because life happens: kids and dogs get sick, we get sick or injured, or fatigue tells us to back off a little.

We cannot attain precise exactitude perhaps on a daily basis. Maybe precise exactitude with some limited flexibility, breathing room to make reasonable, practical smart adjustments in training that are best for us in the long run even if we do not like the short-term ramifications of leveling down our workouts a notch or designating an easy week (or day(s). Maybe certain days we do make precise exactitude the goal and enforce it but what does that mean? Running the precise plan at the correct effort level? With or without walking breaks? And how do we assess how we feel after running/working out? We have to make sure we are not overtraining but don’t want to undertrain too much either unless we are tapering.

It’s a balancing act: balancing the desire for precise exactitude with the desire to be completely spontaneous with workouts. Although complete spontaneity is actually fun with workouts like fartlek running, it can lead to unwise, irrational decisions that hurt us in the long run.

So what am I saying? Moderate your precise exactitude to a limited extent but…perhaps allow it to control on certain days if you feel you’ve been too (unwisely) spontaneous to your detriment.

With precise exactitude (it sounds better than perfectionism), Run strong!